New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday called for strong electoral reforms to strengthen the democratic structure and said it is time to look at legal provisions for increasing the number of parliamentary seats.
In his inaugural address at a seminar on ‘Economic Reforms With Reference To Electoral Issues’, he said timely reforms are necessary which not only would give “justice to the people but also to the ideals enshrined in the Constitution of India”.
“Hence it is necessary to undertake a dispassionate analysis of the way in which our electoral process is functioning with a view to address the shortcomings in the system,” he said.
The President said that generally in the past, coalition governments at the centre contributed to unstable governments necessitating frequent elections. “Fragile coalitions did not last,” he said and also referred to the issue of responsibility of the electorate.
Calling for a healthy debate, the President said that Parliament was not just a deliberating body but also a decision-making body.
Elaborating the need for electoral reforms, he said that due to the freeze on the seats, imposed in 1976 and extended till 2026 by an Act in 2001, the Parliament today represents the figure of 1971 census whereas the population has increased manifold.
Stressing on the need of increasing the number of parliamentary seats, Mukherjee said: “This gives rise to an anomalous situation wherein today, India has over 800 million voters and 543 Lok Sabha Constituencies represent 1.28 billion people. To give true expression to the will of the people, it is time that we look at the legal provisions on the delimitation of the Parliamentary constituencies with a view to increase their number.”
“If Great Britain can have more than 600 Parliamentary constituencies, why can’t India, with a much higher population, have more number of seats,” he asked.
The two-day all India seminar, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, was also attended by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar.